The greatest rugby side on the planet will continue their road to redemption following their disappointing series against the British & Irish Lions in June when they host the Aussies in the second leg of the Bledisloe Cup this Saturday. The All Blacks powered their way to an impressive 54-34 win in Sydney last weekend, with their sparkling counter-attacking ability earning them eight-tries to the Wallabies’ four with just 46% of possession. Even so, they allowed their trans-Tasman rivals to come back strongly in the second-half, something which coach Steve Hansen would certainly not have been impressed with.
To Win (80 Mins)
New Zealand 1/10 | Draw 100/1 | Austalia 6/1 * (ESTIMATED ODDS)
New Zealand (-20.5) | Australia (+20.5) *(ESTIMATED HANDICAP)
New Zealand v Australia | 26 August 09h35 | Forsyth Barr Stadium
New Zealand were at their breathtaking best during the first 40-minutes of action at the ANZ Stadium. They were mind-bogglingly good. With both possession and territory percentages in the low forties, they somehow managed to take make use of every one of the Wallabies’ errors on the counter and went into the break leading by a whopping 40-points to six. So excellent were they, in fact, that it wouldn’t have been a stretch to suggest that they would possibly go on to double their score in the second-stanza – and for a brief period, it seemed they would.
After scoring two quickfire second-half tries, the Wallabies hit back with four of their own, as the match ended at a much more respectable scoreline of 54-34. The sudden drop in intensity on the Kiwi’s behalf was plain to see, and coach Hansen would have let his boys have an earful at full-time. The fact that no points were scored in the final half hour was disappointing and despite their scintillating first 50-odd minutes, will be aiming for a full 80-minute performance this weekend.
While the All Blacks relied heavily on feeding off opposition mistakes in Sydney, they will look to create chances of their own this weekend. In front of their home crowd, they will look to their own set plays to entertain and will want to maintain their intensity for the entire duration of the contest.
Had Michael Cheika’s bunch performed with the same intensity that they did from the 50th-minute onwards last weekend, they would surely have put up more of a fight in front of their home crowd. Despite managing a few fortuitous scores and despite the fact that the All Blacks has taken their foot off the gas by that stage, the Wallabies were much improved in that second-half, and they deserve kudos for fighting back the way they did.
Nevertheless, there is no shying away from the fact that the first-half was a train-wreck. Having had the majority of territory and possession, one would have expected the men in green and gold to have made a few more of their earlier opportunities count. However, a complete lack of focus and inaccuracy, coupled with a truckload of attacking errors allowed their opponents to run wild on the counter. At parts during the beginning of the contest, it did seem to get rather pathetic.
Playing in New Zealand this Saturday where Australia haven’t beaten the All Backs since 2001, will once again work against Cheika’s boys. The British Lions result in Wellington earlier this year will inspire hope in Aussie hearts, but these Wallabies are certainly no Lions.
Verdict: New Zealand 1/10 (-20.5) *Estimated Odds
New Zealand will want to prove a point to their fans and critics after losing and drawing their last two Tests at home. A similarly merciless display this week will propel the hosts to a big win again, as the Aussies continue to fall far behind world rugby’s pecking order.
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